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Henge Happenings
Issue 73
Imbolc 2007

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The Druid's Path
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Review: Plant Spirit Shamanism

 

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Plant Spirit Shamanism:
Traditional Techniques for Healing the Soul
by Ross Heaven and Howard Charing

Book Cover - Plant Spirit ShamanismThis work is a rich and excellent resource, well done – a book one can continue to work with over time rather than reading once and moving on to the next book.

One of the things that makes this book different from many others is that it addresses both the spiritual and pharmacological uses of plants. To that end, the authors write about the preparation not only of the plant, but also the preparation of the person to receive and communicate with that plant spirit.

It includes a large selection of topics such as eating for a healthy neural base, floral baths, Andean-style offerings, a shaman’s diet for listening to plants, plants of vision, developing a relationship with plants, using oils and waters, magical applications of plant spirits and substances, an interesting ethical discussion about attempting to influence others, and interviews with indigenous shamans.

The authors derive their teachings primarily from South American and Haitian traditions, with brief references to Welsh, Middle-Eastern, Irish, and African practices as well. Unlike writers that describe plants only available in obscure places, Heaven and Charing include a table of common analogues for tropical plants that would be unavailable outside the jungle.

Drawbacks in this work are very few. Their description of the limpia – a kind of cleansing – differs from what I have been taught, indicating the need for all of us to be open to various sources when “defining” indigenous practices. Also, receiving the book in late autumn (and living in Minnesota) left me frustrated as far as live plant work goes. However, there was information on the use of oils and waters to keep me busy till things warm up here. All in all, it gave me one more reason to look forward to spring and, more importantly, the encouragement and means to further strengthen my relationship with nature.

Highly recommended, especially for anyone involved in shamanic, Ovate, healing, herbal or even gardening activities. Plant Spirit Shamanism: Traditional Techniques for Healing the Soul by Ross Heaven and Howard Charing Paperback, 280 pages, Destiny Books, ISBN-10: 1594771189 — $16.95.

 

 

 

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